Lake Neusiedl may cover a surface area of only 122 square miles, but it is among the largest endorheic lakes in the world and is Europe’s largest such lake. Endorheic lakes are defined as lakes which do not drain into another major water body such as seas, oceans, or rivers but instead drain into swamps. These types of lakes are characterized by limited drainage basin. The lake’s surface area straddles across the territories of two European countries of Hungary and Austria.
Settlements Around Lake Neusiedl
The region surrounding the lake has been inhabited for thousands of years, with some settlements which lie on the fringes of the lake dating back to the period of the Ancient Roman Empire. While the region surrounding Lake Neusiedl is densely populated, it is dominated by towns having individual populations of fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. Hungary’s side of the lake is home to many towns including Balf and Fertod both of which are home to over 1,000 inhabitants. One of the major towns found on Austria’s side of the lake is Illmitz which has a population of more than 2,300 people. Another town found along Austria’s Lake Neusiedl is Donnerskirchen, which is market town and home to an estimated 1,700 inhabitants. Other examples of towns found on Austria’s Lake Neusiedl include Winden, Jois, and Oggau.
Significance of Lake Neusiedl to Austria
The lake is Austria’s largest lake and, therefore, an important water source in the country. The regions along the lakeshore are among the most fertile in the country and are the major agricultural producing areas in Austria. An example is Illmitz, a town which lies on the lake’s shore and Austria’s winery hub. The town’s outskirts are characterized by extensive vineyards which produce tons of grapes each year.
The lake also supports a large ecosystem which is primarily defined by aquatic life. The abundant flora and fauna is not confined in the lake’s depths but can also be seen along its shore where many bird species and fish can be found. On having priceless environmental benefits, the rich biodiversity found in Lake Neusiedl also has economic benefits, injecting millions of dollars into the Austrian economy in the form of tourism revenue.
Significance of Lake Neusiedl to Hungary
Hungary occupies the eastern section of the lake and numerous of its towns lie along the lake’s eastern shoreline. Hungary prides itself in having the sluices which are used to control the water levels in the lake.
Like the Austrian side of the lake, the Hungary side is also teaming with aquatic life and a particular abundance of waterfowl. The many species of waterfowl found in the lake are a top attraction for bird-watching enthusiasts who flock around the lake each year in their thousands to view the birds. This large traffic of visitors to the lake translates in tourist revenue.
Threats to Lake Neusiedl
The lake has survived numerous attempts of building dams which would have detrimental effects on the lake’s water levels and the ecosystem it supports. In 2001, the lake was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has gone a long way in protecting the lake from negative human activities such as pollution.